A World Of Improvements
The scoring system in World vs. World has always seemed imperfect to me. It was a worthwhile first attempt, but after three years it's well past due for a change. It may have taken a poll to get ArenaNet to finally take steps to address it, but at least something's being done, and I think the upcoming changes will do a lot to make WvW more enjoyable.
The big thread on the Guild Wars 2 forums outlines all the changes ArenaNet is thinking of for WvW scoring. Let's break down the various elements:
A Two-Hour Tour
This is the idea that's got me the most excited, because it's along the same lines as an idea that I had three years ago. Instead of just accumulating points throughout the entire week, the week will be broken down into segments, with varying amounts of victory points being awarded to the winning world. As it stands right now, with scores ranging in the hundreds of thousands, it's all too easy for a world to forge a seemingly insurmountable lead and effectively win the competition after just a day or two.
My proposal suggested scoring take place daily, with worlds being awarded points based on their finish for each 24-hour period and warscores then being reset to start over the next day. I think the better approach is what ArenaNet is considering, having multiple such scoring sessions per day, so as to avoid single-day “runaways” where a world might grab a big lead after 12 hours and make the rest of the day not worth contending for.
I feel like two hours is a bit short, though; I think I'd prefer to see three or four hours be the time frame, so as to allow for longer-term strategies to form and still make individual skirmishes feel a little more drawn out and less “bite-sized.” You could still play for a reasonable period of time and feel like you're having an impact on the score.
The Action Level – Victory Point Multiplier system also seems like a good change, rewarding activity during peak hours while diminishing it during off-peak times. One point that seems odd to me is how it would adjust points “based on map population and time of day”; why is the second qualifier needed? Shouldn't map population be the only deciding factor? It shouldn't matter if maps are full at 6:00 p.m. or at 6:00 a.m. Granted, the system will probably balance out anyway, but if you can factor in population, it seems unnecessary to complicate things by also factoring in time of day.
The Last Stand idea also adds excitement, by doubling the points on the final day of the matchup, but it's got its pluses and minuses. On the up side, that added excitement on the final day should keep things hopping and make sure population remains high, even if one world has built up a significant advantage. It reminds me of game shows like Jeopardy!, where the dollar values are doubled in the second round. It makes that round more worthwhile without totally invalidating the game's earlier play.
That's if you can get in to play, of course. I worry that backloading so many points on the final day will make things so crowded that the queues will be unbearable. I wonder if spreading out the bonus would ramp up the excitement well enough without jamming it all into one brief period. Maybe if the first three days were worth normal points, the next three worth double, and the final day worth triple?
A Matter of Time
I'm especially happy with the scoring changes for upgraded objectives. I always felt that the duration an objective was held should figure into its value, and now that WvW upgrades are done automatically on a timer, including upgrade status in the scoring simulates that perfectly. I think it could have a major effect on how WvW objectives are attacked and, more importantly, defended.
Right now, all objectives of the same kind – camp, tower, keep, Stonemist – are worth the same amount of points. As a result, losing one tower while gaining another (“trading”) has no effect on the overall warscore. It happens all the time and it feels less like a fight for territory than a simple, non-interactive exchange of resources.
But if a time element is factored into things, that makes a big difference. Now it makes sense to fortify/defend/attack certain places over another because they're more valuable and it also provides interesting strategic decisions. Is it better to spread out and take the enemy's less-valuable encampments or focus your strength on that keep that's racking up 50 points per scoring tick? And what about when you're defending such a place, the pulse-pounding excitement of knowing your world's chances of winning will be badly damaged if you lose this one installation whipping you into a warlike fervor, and knowing you can't just flip it back immediately to regain your standing... I like the sound of that!
I also like this idea because it feels more realistic. As anyone who's ever played a city-conquering game like Civilization or Total War knows, a city takes several turns after it's been taken to start rebuilding its wealth; cities that are conquered over and over suffer in the long term. To make things perfectly clear, the map UI should also be altered to show the current value of each location.
It's been a long time coming, but I'm glad the community decided – and ArenaNet agreed – that WvW scoring needed a makeover. While I'll admit to being more of a “follow the zerg”-type player rather than one who sets policy, it's easy to see that scoring needed changes, and I'm hopeful that the work being done will make fights much more interesting and cater to longer-term strategic thinking.